OKC Drivers React To More Construction Work At I-44, I-235 Interchange
OKLAHOMA CITY - It wasn't too long ago when construction on the I-44 and 235 interchange caused major traffic hang-ups, and now transportation officials say get ready for the next wave of road work to start by the end of next month.
This new project is going to upgrade the ramp that connects Eastbound I-44 to Southbound I-235/Broadway Extension.
Andra Conger and her husband have lived right off the 235 for five years. The 50th Street exit is a straight shot to her home, but with the next phase of six projects to upgrade the I-44 and I-235 interchange, the 50th street exit off Southbound 235 will be eliminated, in order to extend the ramp that connects both interstates.
"It's definitely going to put a damper on my commute every day," said Conger. "I work in Midwest City, so this is the easiest thing."
Conger says traffic at the interchange can be terrible during rush-hour, but thinks once the 50th Street exit is eliminated, it will difficult for her to get around places near her neighborhood.
"We like to go to Tinsel Town and down near the Capitol a lot, so it's going to stink for all of the people over here in this neighborhood and for the people across and, the whole Western Park area," said Conger. "It's not going to be fun."
Cole Hackett with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says close to 93,000 to 96,000 people use the I-44 and I-235 interchange each day, and there were 124 accidents in that area alone last year. Before improvements, there were 160 accidents at the interchange in 2011.
"Because the new ramp is going to be a longer ramp, you're going to be able to have more room, you'll be able to get on to 1-235 further south," said Hackett. "The Good thing about this one is it is off set alignment, so, traffic can still use the old ramp while we're building the new one."
Hackett is asking drivers to avoid the interchange when construction starts late April early May, but some people can't.
"I live here, how can I?" said Sissy Brown, who lives off 63rd Street. "It's going to be rough and sticky, but we're going to make it through."
Brown says it was frustrating being offset by traffic in the last construction project on the interstate interchange, which was completed in September.
Hackett says the construction costs about $10 million and last nine months. He says though drivers will have to connect to I-235 further south than usual, the new ramp will help make traffic smoother in the long run.
"If anybody is coming from the north, we just ask them if they can take the turnpike or they can take I-40 on the south to bypass that area," said Hackett. "If you're going eastbound on the 44, you can just continue on, if you're going toward the capitol, maybe take Lincoln Boulevard."
The upgraded ramp is just one of six phases the department of transportation plans to construct in the next eight years. Once construction begins near early May, the North and Southbound lanes on I-235 at 50th Street will be shut down for at least 36 hours as the exit ramp is torn down.